Slavia Prague 0-1 Aston Villa: Villa Hang on for Second UEFA Win
Aston Villa continued their 100 percent record in Europe this season, with a 1-0 win at Slavia Prague in Group F of the UEFA Cup.
Villa's goal came on 26 minutes courtesy of John Carew. Steve Sidwell played a neat one-two with Ashley Young, then hit a shot goalwards that deflected off Carew and left Vaniak helpless in the Slavia goal.
Two minutes later, Ashley Young curled a free kick against the post. Villa dominated the first half and Carew should have added to his first goal but his finishing was lacking as he squandered two gilt edge opportunities in the Slavia box.
An impressive record thus far this season for Villa means that one more good result in the UEFA Cup group stage will see Martin O'Neill's team progress to the 32 team knock-out phase.
O'Neill made wholesale changes from Villa's defeat at St. James' Park on Monday, there were six changes in all. Brad Guzan came in for Friedel in goal to make only his second appearance for Aston Villa.
Guzan was called upon early when Curtis Davies and Zat Knight parted like the Red Sea to let Tomas Jarolim in. Jarolim fired a shot low to Guzan's left, which the American saved smartly with a strong left hand.
Two more half chances followed for Slavia, but Guzan was up to the task making some decent saves, the American 'keeper looked confident all night and marshaled the rather shaky and inexperienced looking center back pairing of Davies and Knight.
Villa's left flank looked dangerous in the first half. Ashley Young worked well with Gabriel Agbonlahor and provided pace that will frighten any team in this year's UEFA cup.
An exciting second half saw the home team throw bodies forward in search of the illusive equaliser. Guzan again made several fine saves to keep the points for Villa, with Jarolim the main threat as he launched a rasping shot towards the Villa goal, but the Villa stopper was up to the task and denied the Czech league leaders.
Villa were penned in their own half for most of the last half hour, and Carew and Agbonlahor did little to relieve the pressure. Carew's lazy tendencies reared their ugly head as he increasingly seemed unable to hold the ball up in attacking areas when his team were under pressure.
Desperate defending and time wasting saw out the last few minutes, and in the end Aston Villa will be more than satisfied with the one goal win, and look very likely to advance to the business end of the UEFA Cup.
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